Volume 72, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The results of experiments comparing the pathogenesis of West Nile virus (WNV) following infection by mosquito bite, needle inoculation, and ingestion are reported. Adult hamsters were readily infected by all three routes. The level and duration of viremia, clinical manifestations, pathology, and antibody response in the hamsters following mosquito infection and needle inoculation were similar; after oral infection, the onset of viremia was delayed and the mortality was lower, but the level and duration of viremia, histopathology, and antibody response were similar to the other routes. The results from this and previously published studies indicate that a wide variety of animal species are susceptible to oral infection with WNV and that orally infected animals develop a viremia and illness similar to that following the bite of infected mosquitoes. Oral infection appears to be an alternative transmission mechanism used by a number of different flaviviruses; its potential role in the natural history of WNV is discussed.


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  • Received : 20 Jul 2004
  • Accepted : 11 Aug 2004

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